Sunday, September 6, 2015

We Don't Cook Enough

We don't cook enough.

Singapore is unique because we have ready-made food at our doorsteps with minimal fuss and prices. Despite import prices, we are lucky to have ingenious hawkers that cook for us. So we really don't have to learn how to cook, or have any reason to learn the use of a galangal ginger or the 100 types of seeds/beans.

I sigh a little every time when I walk into NTUC Fairprice, or Coldstorage, to see the canned and frozen food section expand with every shuffle of inventory. The fresh food places are getting smaller, and even "fresh food" is seasoned wings, or steaks that you can simply pick up and place it on a pan at home.

I am not a romantic - like every busy individual, I eat out more often than not. However, I am also privileged, because my family taught me to cook from a very young age. I know my way around the kitchen. I worry for my peers, for those who are not learning from their parents/grandparents. These precious recipes, and know-hows will one day pass out of our generation.

For instance, do you know you can add salt to orange juice to make them sweet? Or do you know that bread is cooked when you knock and bottom and it sounds hollow? Do we even know how to cook rice without a "rice-cooker"?

I like cooking and baking, precisely because I know what goes into the pot. It's also therapeutic. On the other hand, cooking for my loved ones is my expression of affection. Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone enjoy the food I made. Nothing tastes better than fresh-out-of-the-oven pastry, or straight-out-of-the-wok stir fry.

My best memories about my family, surrounds around the act of cooking. We will hustle around like a well-oiled machine knowing our tasks and "place" in the kitchen. We put aside our phones and electronic distractions, to just concentrate on each other and the task at hand.

Cooking saves so much money, and while I understand for others who experienced it to be a chore, it's a cultivation of habit. So hey, it's always good to make friends with people who love to cook and bake. I am always giving away food ^^

Come by, for tea one day, around freshly baked scones or cupcakes. We can make something wonderful together. You'll be surprised how easy it is!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Stand tall, Don't slouch

As I head to work today, I was reminded of this small nag my mum used to always tell me when I bid her farewell at my primary school gates.

"Stand tall! Don't slouch when you walk."

My mum has many "don'ts" for me when I was younger - so much so that sometimes I felt the American notion of childhood freedom read in Nancy Drews and Sweet Valley High was a taste I'll never be able to experience.

Certainly, my mum was refering to bad posture, and spine problems later in life. My primary school late principal insisted all students carried their bags when they walked into school. Parents or maids who carried bags for the students will be kindly reminded by the teachers and vice-principal (read: malu). The notion is to remind students that the burden of learning and knowledge is really their own and no one else. Also, it also taught me to pack lighter. Haha.

So as a result, we literally bend over backwards to carry our daily load of textbooks. Stand tall, don't slouch.

When I corrected my posture, I could immediately feel the weight of the books threaten to pull my shoulders to the floor. It was extremely uncomfortable, and it hurt. But I could also breathe better, walk faster and eventually I was so used to the load, when there were extra books, it was no effort at all to carry them.

Moving on, when educational levels climbed higher and bags became smaller, the ability to carry the load became such a habit, I don't notice how heavy my "lighter" bag was in comparison to my peers. I was simply too used to the weight.

Reflecting back, what did my mum see when she saw me carrying an obviously heavy bag and walking tall and upright? She must have worried for my spine and all, but more than that, I think she wanted me to me strong both physically and mentally. The sight of a 7 year old walking straight despite a 7kg school bag, must have made her proud.

Doesn't mean she didn't insist on checking my bag every night to make sure I didn't useless things (like books I didn't need that day, paint brushes, a dictionary AND a thesaurus).

Stand tall - persevere despite the load life constantly adds to us. Don't slouch - don't ever let my guard down, never take the easy way out even when it seems like the best idea at that time with no apparent consequences.

My mum was only 1.50cm, she had to stand taller to be heard by others around her. Being the oldest and also the shortest child, I've seen her carry weights more than her petite frame can manage. She took care of everyone around her, saved and scrimp so that I could have the best. She stood tall, and never found an excuse to slouch.

One of my primary school's is perseverance, and my mum's insistence on my posture, her own demands, revolves around this very idea. As times seem tough at work, I must look back at this anecdote, and remind myself to

Stand tall, don't slouch.